(What I Believe to Be) The Hardest Commandment

A lot of people reject Catholicism or even all of Christianity because they believe it to be too hard.  Most people think the church’s teachings on chastity are too strict, or its position on wealth isn’t fair.  I first off don’t think its too hard to the point of being impossible.  We have examples of humans, sinners like us, who became perfect in heaven after following the church’s teachings, even the hard ones.  But I also don’t think chastity or whatever rule it is are the hardest things we as Christians are called to obey.  CS Lewis, one of my favorite authors ever, agrees with me.  I am by no means saying chastity or whatever virtue isn’t insanely hard, but its not the most difficult thing we are called to do.  CS Lewis in his great book explaining what Christians believe, Mere Christianity, says that is loving our neighbor, and even our enemy, as God loves us.

I’m sure you all know that you’re supposed to love your friends and enemies alike, but boy, its easier said than done.  I struggle with this a lot, as many of my friends may be quick to tell you.  It may be that I’ve been to New Jersey once to many times so that it rubbed off on me or something, but I can hold a grudge for a long time.  But normally, its with very anti-Catholic or militantly pro-abortion people that I get angry with, and stay angry with.  My anger could be justified, as they are supporting murder of children or whatever it is.  But the thing is, anger can never be justified against a Child of God.  Not the initial emotion that all humans feel, even Jesus shows righteous anger in the Temple when He flipped the tax collectors’ tables.  Not the emotion, but the genuine hatred and disunity that may follow.  Disunity if Satan’s goal.  What does he fear most?  All humanity united in the Body of Christ against him in perfect harmony and love.  What does he want most?  Every single human being isolated from the others in their own pride.  In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the lowest part of Hell is reserved for Satan alone.  He sits there in the ice by himself, isolated from everybody.

On Sunday one of the Franciscan brothers was giving a homily.  He was talking about disunity.  He said that when they do a holy hour, they pray the psalms for 15 minutes, and then its silence for 45 minutes.  Its all good, for the first 30 seconds, until someone sniffs, or sneezes, or coughs.  He said that he just wants to shout “SHUT UP!  GET OUT OF MY CHAPEL!!!”.  Over time he really starts to dislike some of these people.  We all know people we dislike.  That kind of person that makes you grumble when they sit next to you at lunch.  You don’t want to accept that person.  You could care less if they sat by themselves every day.  But here’s what the friar said ,”This is satanic”.  I was shocked by his use of words.  Sure, thats what the devil wants, but satanic?  That gives the impression that you are serving satan.  That’s a seriously disturbing thought.

In JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, it begins with Eru Illuvatar, God.  He creates many beautiful and powerful angels, the greatest of which is Melkor.  He instructs them, and they play music like that which would never be heard again.  Melkor started playing to his own desires, and others followed him.  Soon there were two bands, competing for dominance. Eventually Melkor, now Morgoth is thrown from the heavens, but he has achieved much of his goal at that point.  He has created disunity.  This I think is a spectacular metaphor for the fall of Lucifer.  Down on earth, Morgoth continues to divide the free people who oppose him, and create distrust and enmity between the various races.  Only millenniums later when these races unite under one banner to march on the Dark Lord is he finally defeated.  The call to love your neighbor as yourself is the remedy to disunity, harmony against chaos, charity against hate.

One of the things the Pharisees hated most about Jesus was that he hung out with sinners. We’re blessed with so many examples of charity like Mother Teresa and Pope Francis that this line is not such of a surprise as it was intended.  Jesus Christ, omnipotent Lord and Master of the Universe, hanging out with a couple of tax collectors.  One of the best stories in the entire Bible is the conversion of Matthew, the tax collector.  Tax collectors were scum.  They were Jews who collected taxes for the oppressive Roman government ruling their people, and most cheated and stole while they did it.  This is like the equivalent of a gangster today.  Jesus is out chillin with his bros, when He points to Matthew, a tax collector, a gangster, and tells him to come, and follow Him.  Matthew gets up and follows him.  What do they do next?  They throw a party with a bunch of other tax collectors.  Not only does Jesus loves sinners, He likes them.  For us speaking English at least, the word “like” can be much stronger than the word “love”.  Sure you love your brother but do you like him?  Do you enjoy hanging out with him and spending time with him?  Jesus likes sinners.  He hangs out with them and in the process draws them into himself.  Its comforting to know that Jesus likes you, and everything you are.  But its also important to know that you are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps, and spend time with the sinner, instruct the ignorant, and bear wrongs patiently.

I find it interesting that they threw a party.  If I was a tax collector, and this all-righteous Jesus guy invited me to follow Him, I would probably be thinking that He’s got the wrong guy.  I’m not the kind of person saints invite to their birthday parties.  But then this Matthew, one of the tax collectors, like me, goes and hangs out with Jesus and His buds.  I’d be thinking, wow, maybe I can follow Him.  Maybe God is calling me.  Remember what I said earlier, about the Body of Christ?  Well, its not like its just half Jesus and half you.  The entire Church is part of it.  And if you love your neighbor, and if you follow Christ, others will follow your example.  Others just like you who would’ve thought that there is no way that God’s mercy could ever possibly reach them, until they saw it reach you.  Whatever you do good radiates the world, and whatever wrong you do darkens it.

Today’s reading fits into this very well.  Its the whole thing where Jesus separates the saints from the sinners in Heaven, and tells the sinners that what you did unto the least of my brethren, you did unto me.  Well, its easy to pity a hungry child and help them. Its not hard to visit an innocent man in prison.  The least of my brethren.  imagine someone you hate, and would love to see fail.  And that person does fail, and loses all he has.  He comes to you for help, for shelter, for the love of Christ?  Well I could tell you without a shadow of a doubt that I would probably smash the door on his face and never regret it.  The least of my brethren is not the worst off, but the person you see as scum.  Its the person who you make to be the worst off.  Forgive me, but another movie metaphor is imminent.  In Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast, the story begins with a rich prince, who has all that he has.  An old beggar comes to his door and offers to give the young prince a rose in return for shelter from the cold rain.  It says the prince is “repulsed by her haggard appearance”.  We kind of get the vibe that he’s stating to hate her already, and he refuses.  Well it turns out that old lady was a super powerful enchantress and he gets turned into the beast and the movie begins.

You see, we’re not only called to love complete strangers, but even our most hated rivals and enemies.  Imagine the person you hate the most in the whole world.  That one guy whose nose just annoys the heck out of you, that one boss that is super mean and blames everything on you, that one girl at school who just likes to make fun of you in front of everybody.  That is Christ, challenging you to live like God lives.

Love your neighbor as yourself.  Seems pretty easy.  That super cool guy who lives next door to you that brought you dinner when your family had a baby.  Sure, you would love to return the favor.  Your called to love, even like those who you hate, the people you utterly despise.  This is totally contrary to where our emotions would take us, where logic would even take us.  Someone hurts you, you hurt em back, right?  Jesus calls us to love them instead.  The single most radical thing Christ calls us to do.  No religion in the history of mankind had yet taught this, even Moses said to fight your enemy.  And of course, its also probably the hardest thing He calls us to as well.

You may be thinking that this is relatively easy, that you do it all the time.  I know people like this who are just naturally nice and pleasant to everyone.  This comes easy to them.  But to those who much is given, much will be expected.  For those of you like me, who struggle with this, who would like nothing more than to just clock that one guy, God knows its hard.  He’s not oblivious to things like this.  God is all-just and all-merciful.  He won’t expect the same niceness from you as someone who is just naturally kind.  But that’s no excuse not to try as hard as you can.  All He calls us to do is to give it all you got, and you will be rewarded.  Just do your best, and God will take care of the rest.  Hey, that rhymes.  Maybe it will help you remember.

One thing CS Lewis recommends is to act nice, to pretend you like some person, and eventually, you’ll start liking this person more and more.  If you are mean, you’ll find yourself hating and hating even more.  For lent, I’ve decided to tackle this particular vice.  Whenever I get annoyed or angry with someone, I say a Hail Mary with the intention that they have a great day.  Its super hard to genuinely wish them the best, but when I do, I find me self being kinder and kinder.  So I recommend trying that and see how it works out for you.  Maybe even pray for their parents or family.  You have to deal with this person for maybe a couple of hours, they’ve been dealing with them their entire lives.

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
-Mother Teresa

 

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

As for Me and My House

As for Me and My House

So, in my English class, I have two very good friends, and we were just talking about games, Madden Mobile to be precise.  One of them asked me if I got the new update.  I said no, I don’t have the game.  He freaked out and told me to take out my phone and download it.  I said, “I don’t have a phone”.  The entire class collectively gasped.  Okay, that stretching it.  It just got really quiet and everyone looked at me.  Long story short, they both thought my parents were communists for not allowing me to buy my own smart phone.  I told them calmly that is just the way we roll in my family.

Last week, on Thursday if I’m correct, I had probably the most stressful day I can recall.  I won’t go into details, because then this post would have about one hundred lines of negative thoughts, and that’s not what this blog is about.  Anyway, I was at school calling my mom on my dad’s extra phone that he (thankfully) left in my band bag.  i was so stressed that I completely forgot my mom was even on the phone.  Someone asked me a dumb question and I started swearing.  Pretty loudly too.  Anyway, afterwards I kinda beat myself up about letting it loose (I am just one of those weird people who doesn’t swear every other word).  My friend asked me why Catholics had to be so different from the rest of the school.  Why can’t we just be like everyone else?

That seems to be the question everyone is asking nowadays.  We seem to be the only ones standing up for traditional marriage.  One in a small group who stand for the Right to Life.  We are a lot like the apostles in today’s readings.  Jesus tells his disciples that to enter Heaven, they must eat His flesh and drink His blood.  “This is a hard saying” they murmur, “who can follow it?”.  With that, many turn and leave Him.  Jesus turns to His disciples and asks, “Do you also wish to go away?”.  And Peter, the first Pope replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.

Have you ever noticed that, out of the thousand Christian denominations, Catholics are the only ones who believed Jesus when He said “This is My Body”?  That alone is enough to make us different.  But why do we act different?  Maybe it is because we are not ordered to this world.  Death is not the end for us.  We live for Christ.  That is why we are different.

Take a Catholic, a good, faithful, devout Catholic, and order his life to the world.  What do you get?  A normal person at best.  Probably a bad person.  All he would want to do is to be happy, nothing else.  He looks for fleeting pleasure in everything and cares about himself.  Whatever is good about Catholicism is ordered to God and Heaven (A.K.A. ALL OF IT).  And whatever is good about you is what is ordered to God.

I found this poem on Star of the Sea blog in a post about wealth.  It’s very powerful.

Wealth can be an idol, built of gleaming gold,
bringing dreams of paradise, futures bought and sold.
Some will choose to gather it, all that they can hoard,
but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Don’t fall into peer pressure.  Don’t let others influence you to do wrong.  Others are willing to let their technology govern their lives.  Many push for evil in our government.  Almost all are ordered towards this world, and what little it offers.  Tell them boldly that they can do as they wish, but as for me and my house, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!

News

  • I was notified recently of what is essentially, a Catholic Facebook.  Its called Awestruck, and its awesome.  You can join groups that have similar interests as you.  For example, I’m in the Tolkien group, as well as the Latin Mass group.  You can pray for each other and post prayer requests.  You can Pray a virtual Rosary complete with Scriptural Reflections, as well as the Liturgy of the Hours.  I highly recommend it, and you can follow me at http://awestruck.tv/members/catholicteen/
  • There have been a ton of new readers recently, so I just wanted to point them to the Follow button on the sidebar.  If you click that and type in your email address, you’ll get an update overtime I write a new post.  It is a must for any reader of this blog.
  • Fo those of you who missed the memo, there will only be posts on Sundays for a while.  I am extremely busy and do not have time during the week.  I may be able to drop in a quote like I did last Monday, but the chances are slim.
  • NEW FEATURE!!! – Just a few inches below this, is Tolkien Tavern.  It’s a little thing I’ll do every Sunday writing about Tolkien and his works.  I might have a language corner, or a reflection about his life, and definitely a quote.  Remember, this is a new feature, so I need reader advice on how to improve it, and what you want to be in it.  I don’t write a blog just to read it myself, I have a journal for that.  I think eventually it will morph into a post by itself, maybe even a newsletter.  But again, I’ll only do it if people will read it.  I you want that to happen, MAKE SURE TO TELL ME!  I’m not God, I don’t read minds.
  • Guess what, GOD LOVES YOU!  Don’t forget it!

~ TOLKIEN TAVERN ~

Quote
Sam Today’s world is very dark.  And getting darker.  But remember, even darkness must pass.  “A new day will come.  And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer” – JRR Tolkien.

Quick Quenya

For this of you who do not know, Quenya is one of the two main Elvish languages spoken in Middle Earth.  It was brought into Middle Earth by the Noldor when they came to fight Morgoth.  For the most part they adopted the other language, Sindarin, but Quenya was still used as the High Tongue of the Elves.  Quenya is a lot like Latin, whereas Sindarin is a lot like Celtic.

I prefer Quenya for two reasons.  One is that it is a lot like Latin, and therefore, easier for a latin student (such as me) to understand.  The other is that it sounds better in my opinion.  Another great thing about Quenya is the resources Tolkien left for us, compared to the little we know of Sindarin.

I have worked with a couple like-minded friends to produce the first translation of the Rosary in Quenya.  Feel free to use and share it as you will.

Sign of the Cross:
Essenen Atarwa, ar Yondova, ar Ainasúleva. Násie.

Creed:
Istanyë Eru, Illúvatar Antaura, I ontaro menelo ar cemeno. Istanyë Yésus
Hristo, Sonya eressë Yondo, Herúlva. Tullë túrenen Airefeo
ar etnoná Marí Vénëa. Nés nwalyaina nu Pontius Pilátus,
Tarwestaina, firnë, panyaina noirissë. Lelyanes nún I vanwanna.
I nelya auressë enortanes. Rostanes mir menel, ar
ná hamna sé forma Illuvataro. Entuluvas namien I cuina ar I
firin. Istanyë I Airefëa, I aire Palurin corda, I yomenië nerion airi, I
avatyaralë lucassion, I ortalë I hroan, ar cuile oia. Násië.

Our Father: 
Átaremma i ëa han ëa,
na aire esselya.
aranielya na tuluva,
na care indómelya cemende tambe Erumande.
ámen anta síra ilaurëa massamma,
ar ámen apsene úcaremmar sív’ emme apsenet tien i úcarer emmen,
Álame tulya úsahtienna mal áme etelehta ulcullo. Násie.

Hail Mary: 
Aia María quanta Eruanno, i Héru as elye. Aistana elye imíca nísi, ar aistana i yáve mónalyo Yésus. Aire María Eruo ontaril, á hyame rámen úcarindor, sí ar lúmesse ya firuvamme. Násie.

Glory Be: 
A laita Atar, ar Yondo, ar Ainasúle. Ve nés i yessesse ná sin, ar yéva tennoio. Násie.

Salve Regina: 
Aiya Tári, Amillë oraviéno,
cuilelma, lisselma ar estelma, aiya.
Lyenna yélalmë, etya-híni Évo,
lyenna síqualmë, nainala ar nyérala
sina nandossë nieníva.

Ai! etta, a sámelma, á querë
menna oravála hendulyat;
ar ámen tana Yésus, i aistana
yávë mónalyo, apa etyalë sina.
A raina, a méla, a lissë Wendë María. Násie.

God Bless (nai Eru lye mánata)!

In Christ, Catholic2theMax

The Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Liberalism and Sin

I’ve just gotten home from my long road trip to South Bend, Indiana for my youngest brother’s baptism.  My siblings and I have all been baptized at the same church, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame University, and by the same priest.  The road trip was about 8 hours, so I needed some serious entertainment.  I brought my laptop, but it died within 2 hours of Minecraft.  After about an hour or so of boredom, my dad put the Fellowship of the Rings audiobook on.  I’ve read the book many times, but my brother sadly had not, and I am always ready to read, or hear it again.

Like I’ve already said, I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least 15 times, but I’ve never noticed something which caught my ear on Saturday.  Gandalf was talking to Bilbo before the hobbit left for the mountains right after the party.  Bilbo was getting angry, and he told Gandalf, “I’ll do as I choose and go as I please”.  Ever heard that before?  Probably not in those exact words, but perhaps something like “Don’t tell me what to do”.

Nowadays, that’s what most people define as liberalism.  But, with the secularized culture, our liberty has morphed into license (doing whatever the heck you want to do).  Now, that is pretty much what Bilbo in his anger just confessed.  He believes that he can do whatever he wants.  That what true.  With his Ring of Power, Bilbo can get away with whatever he wants because of the invisibility it bestows on its wearer.  He can do as he chooses and go as he pleases, and no one can stop him.  The ring symbolizes liberalism.

Many people want to live like that.  No rules, no bonds, nothing that could get in the way of you and your desires.  Look at America today, somehow the Supreme Court has decided that people have a right to do something just because they want to do it.  Look where that got Bilbo.  He lived an extremely long life, had a tremendous amount of wealth, and not to mention the power of invisibility.  But then we start to see the side affects.  He says that he felt like “butter, scraped across too much bread”.  He has begun the transformation into a terrible creature, a slave to sin.  He shows this in his flashes of anger in his conversation with the wizard.  The reader sees the similarities between him and the creature Gollum, as Gandalf outlines in great detail.   The biggest similarity that I see, is their obsession with their “right” to the ring.  Gollum claims that it was his birthday present, and Bilbo claims that he won it, both lies.

So many people today claim to have a “right” to have an abortion, or to marry someone of the same gender, or to get a divorce.  A right is given from authority.  A mayor has authority given to him from a higher authority, and eventually goes on up to the Federal Government.  And there the chain stops, or does it?  Jesus says that all authority comes from God, and that government has authority in things that only God gives authority.  The Supreme Court may profess to have the authority to redefine marriage, but no such authority lies in any human establishment.  That would be like a monkey trying to redefine the banana given to him by his master.  His master gave it to him out of love as a gift, and the monkey doesn’t want it to be a banana, he wants it to be a pistol.  Eventually, when that monkey tries to start a Rise of the Planet of the Apes, his so called gun will fail to function and he will be in a very bad spot.

I used to have a CD that I would listen to in the car by Joseph Pierce about the Catholicism that can be found in the Lord of the Rings.  He mentioned how the Ring is sin.  It seems appealing and harmless, altogether precious as Tolkien put it.  It seems to exist only for your happiness.  But it will trap you and change you.  Look what it did to the Nine human kings.  They were probably okay guys to start off with.  Some were probably tyrants, but nothing compared to what sin turns them into.

At the beginning of the Return of the King movie, it shows Smeagol fishing with his friend Deagol.  They are very happy, just hanging out enjoying the good weather.  Then they spot the ring, and a peaceful day turn into a murder scene.  A perfectly happy hobbit-like thing was changed into the monstrosity of Gollum.  He both hates and loves the ring, as he hates and loves himself.  He is a hideous animal, a monster from nightmares.  Sin has the capacity to do that, no matter how alluring or harmless it may seem.

This is what will happen if we do not drop sin as Bilbo did.  Leave it and never even look at it again.  The same thing with liberalism, or should I say, license.  License puts you in the place of God as judge of all.  Something is right if you say it is.  That would be living on a lie, like the lie of Gollum.

Frodo just wore it around his neck and he almost turned evil.  But he had a friend, Sam (my favorite character by the way) who helped him on his journey.  Like I’ve said like 10 times already.  A journey is a lot easier if you have good friends to keep you going.

In Christ, Catholic2theMax